Monday, 11 August 2008

Children's stories and the gospel

Justin Taylor has linked to Trevor Cairney's post on Christian writing for Children, which is good news because what Trevor said deserves a wider readership.

Here's a quote from Trevor's post that I found fascinating:

The starting point for my seminar was the central proposition that the gospel of Christ is the central narrative to which virtually all other narratives have some relationship – certainly in the Western cultural tradition and literature. The central focus of the Bible is Salvation History; with its central narrative tracing both the history of Judaism and Christianity and God’s redemptive plan for his people. In the beginning God created…and it was good. But sin entered the world, man rebelled against him and so God placed a curse upon his creation that one day would end in judgement. But God always had a plan for such rebellion; a plan of redemption motivated by love. An amazing gift of grace; his own son sent to die that we might be restored to a relationship with him.

I have no idea at all how you work out that "the gospel of Christ is the central narrative to which virtually all other narratives have some relationship". I note that Trevor does qualify the statement somewhat, but now that he's put the thought into my head I am going to start reading fiction books with this question in mind. Wish I'd been at the seminar so I could have asked some follow-ups. I like the summary of the gospel that Trevor has given too, though I might have added something about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. That, I suppose, is the ultimate happy ending, though not for his unforgiven enemies.

I have three girls under ten and I have often thought I would like to write stories for them. Trevor's post is a good encouragement to this and it would be terrific if a few people read it and were spurred on to making their own efforts.

Actually I did once tell my daughter a story about a cat that didn't keep his word, got lost and ended far from home without its parents. It was all rather unpleasant really now that I think of it. Maybe that's why I stopped trying. Right now our youngest loves The Little Red Hen because she can read the words for herself. Hmm. I reckon this blog entry is one paragraph too long, starting to ramble now, and the dreaded ellipsis seems almost inevitable...

Oh, I know what I wanted to ask. Anybody read any good kid's books lately?


Nicole said...

I was happy to see it linked to as well!!

I know this is an obvious choice, but I'm reading Charlotte's Web to Rebecca (3 1/2) at the moment, and have been reminded how well written it is... and there are a lot of themes in it that can spark good conversations.

RodeoClown said...

My boys were given 'The Gruffalo' and 'The Gruffalo's Child' for Christmas.

They are both fairly great.

Trevor Cairney said...

Hi Gordon, I appreciate your comments. Yes, of course the resurrection is the ultimate happy ending for those who trust in Christ. There are also lots of 'new life' resurrection narratives or elements in children's stories; many fairy stories for a start. For example, grandma is cut from the belly of the wolf (in traditional versions), Snow White is woken with a kiss etc. Of course, we don't have a neat or complete parallel except in the allegorical or the Bible story genre, but many children's stories mirror (or echo) the biblical redemption narrative. I'll post on this again later to flesh out my thinking and share some thoughts from others. In the next edition of Case Magazine we have a great piece from Andrew Lansdown on Fantasy that makes some related points. And Scott Monk has a great piece that addresses the challenges of a Christian who writes adolescent fiction for the secular market. Thanks again. My other blog "Literacy, families and learning"( has lots of suggestions on books for kids.